Recently, Oleg Artishuk's YouTube channel posted a video with the CEO and founder of BetterMe, Victoria Repa. The entrepreneur spoke about her journey from being a young girl from a small village in the Donetsk region to the head of a large mobile application development company.
The interview focused on the following areas:
About Victoria Repa
Victoria Repa, the founder of BetterMe came to the IT sector from the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector — she worked at Procter & Gamble, then at Genesis media company. In 2017, without technical education, she launched the BetterMe project, an ecosystem of mobile applications and other digital products in the Health & Fitness category. The total number of installations of the company's mobile applications, according to the entrepreneur, exceeds 110 000 000 as of 2022.
Today, Victoria has 200 employees, and its products are used by 10 000 000 people per month in the US and Western Europe. In 2020, Victoria was included in the European Forbes "30 under 30" list, in the "Technology" category.
The Path from FMCG to Mobile App Development
FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) is a generic name for everyday consumer goods, especially light and food products, that are relatively cheap and sell quickly.
Having started her career working at Procter & Gamble, Victoria soon realized that it was necessary to develop in the field of IT technologies. Having received specialized knowledge at Genesis IT School, she got a job in this company. Genesis is one of the largest IT companies in Ukraine with more than 1 500 people in 9 countries who create products for more than 200 million users every month.
At Genesis IT School, she worked as an analyst in the media department. There she gained experience working with traffic and learned how to create and promote media content. Victoria was then asked to create and test a project that would bring weight loss products to the US market.
She began to manage a page on Facebook, on which she independently posted articles, made creatives, and bought likes. Roughly speaking, Victoria was both a marketer and an operations manager for the project. The money for traffic was given to her by the owners of the project.
After an audience of 100 000 subscribers gathered on the page, and the traffic began to pay off, the guys decided to pack it into an application.
Victoria said that the project management was completely entrusted to her and, 3 months after the launch, the first BetterMe application began to make a profit. Thanks to excellent project management skills and investment from Horizon Capital, Victoria was able to scale the business quickly.
Victoria claims that neither the owners of the project nor the investor planned to invest money "in the long run". According to her, there was not much money at the start and the project went on bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is a way of financing small firms through the acquisition and use of resources without raising equity capital from traditional sources or borrowing from banks.
In today's realities, this is no longer possible to repeat, Repa believes.
"Today you can’t do anything big without $10 000 000," Victoria described the mobile app development niche.
Launching the First Application
At first, the app only had a few workouts and articles with fitness tips. As the owner of the project herself admitted, initially the content was not of the best quality. However, 3 months after the launch, the application became profitable.
The company is developing at such a rapid pace that its leader sees a capitalization of $100 billion as his goal.
"I would not be interested in doing this at all in order to bring the company to $1 billion. "100 billion" is what all this grind is for," — Victoria spoke about her ambitions.
Victoria's company has focused its efforts on the topics of the physical and mental health of a person. Today it has two mobile applications. The BetterMe Health Coach and the BetterMe Mental Health app.
The app "BetterMe: Health Coach" includes:
The application contains many articles on weight loss that describe the physiological and psychological aspects of this process. Has over 10 000 000 downloads on the Google Play Store.
The BetterMe Mental Health app features various meditation techniques, breathing exercises, and relaxation music. It also has over 1 000 000 installs on the Google Play Store.
Victoria said that initially, the team followed the path of creating many different applications. However, it turned out to be a difficult task to bring them to the top, so the guys decided to leave and develop two "super apps".
"Our idea when creating a "super-app" was to make a multi-functional app," — Victoria said.
The team set themselves the task of making not just an application for weight loss — they decided to embody the idea of combining the “health = lifestyle” principle in one platform. That is, the user can use the application not only for training, but also to keep track of calories, and receive useful information on nutrition, health research results, and so on.
When asked which set of application users, Daily Active Users or Monthly Active Users, are most important to the company, the CEO replied that the latter.
On average, in the Apple Store and Google Play, the Monthly Active Users number is 10 000 000 users. That is, this is the number of users who use the BetterMe apps on Android and iOS every month. The ratio of traffic from these two stores is 60/40.
The team buys traffic from:
Of the 200 people on the BetterMe team, 100 are developers. Moreover, all of them are involved only under the two above-mentioned applications. The remaining 100 people are:
Involvement in Facebook Data Sharing Scandal
Some time ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article about the transfer of user data to Facebook by some mobile application developers. BetterMe was among the participants in this scandal.
The head of the company said that they were contacted by an American journalist who spoke about his investigation. It found that BetterMe shared user data such as gender, weight, and the like with Meta*. Victoria states that they collect, store and process all the data they collect according to the Policy of Facebook*, Google, and Apple.
"Yes, there are downsides of health apps. The problem is that we collect personal and intimate user data. But we transfer to Facebook only those that are needed to optimize our advertising campaigns and are not prohibited by Advertising Policies", — the head of the mobile developer company assured.
Communication with the AppStore
In 2019, Apple removed two flagship BetterMe apps from the AppStore. The reason, according to Victoria, was the lack of communication between their company and Apple. By that time, the BetterMe application, which was no longer small in terms of the number of installations, received an email from Apple. It was a requirement to eliminate certain errors so Apple than simply removed the app from the store.
This problem was solved quite quickly — the application returned to the Apple store. Using this example, Victoria warned all mobile application developers that as the company grows, it is necessary to build communication with the giants of the industry.
"Google, Facebook and Apple are designed in such a way that their Policy departments absolutely do not care how much traffic you buy. They are completely autonomous in these companies and clearly perform their functions," — Victoria described the structure of the giants.
According to Victoria, the need to improve communication is evidenced by the photo below, in the center of which is Tim Cook (Apple CEO), and Victoria Repa on the left.
The company's main source of income is subscriptions within mobile applications. The project also has its own merch, but, according to Victoria, it brings a very small part of the total income.
The average monthly turnover of the company is $5 000 000, but in the context of each month, this figure can vary significantly in both directions. According to Victoria, the seasonal factor strongly influences the profit.
"Judging by the dynamics of our revenue, I can say that people begin to lose weight and take care of themselves from every first day of the new month and on Mondays", — the head of the company shared her "business insight".
Victoria is sure that in the category "Health & Fitness", her company's application is out of competition. Her rivals for the minds and time of users, the girl sees Netflix and other major streaming services, as well as the Gaming and porn industries.
"It’s easier for people to go to nature, drink ayahuasca, eat mushrooms than to eat properly in a systematic, structural and disciplined way, and monitor their health," — Victoria complained about the values of society.
The case of Victoria Repa confirms the idea that ambition can help a person succeed in business. Far from the sphere of mobile application development, the girl was able to join a large IT team, attract investments and launch a product that brings good money to the market.
"Ask for the impossible — you will get the maximum" — the relevance of this principle, expressed by Napoleon Bonaparte more than 200 years ago, is still in place to this day. We hope that Victoria's experience will inspire many moneymakers to achieve their business goals.